Saudi Women Rock the Voter Registration for First Time

Historic moment as women prepare to cast ballots in December elections
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2015 1:16 PM CDT
Saudi Women Rock the Voter Registration for First Time
In this Nov. 11, 2010, file photo, Saudi woman with cellphones smoke tobacco from a water pipe as they drink coffee in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.   (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)

Not unusual: A well-known businessperson and a schoolteacher registered to vote Sunday in Saudi Arabia's municipal elections in December. Unusual: that they were both women. Jamal Al-Saadi and Safinaz Abu Al-Shamat earned the honors of being the first two females ever in the kingdom to register (Saadi in Medina, Shamat in Mecca), and they couldn't be more ready to cast their ballots, per Al Arabiya.

"The participation of the Saudi women in the municipal elections as voters and candidates was a dream for us," Saadi tells the broadcaster. "The move will enable Saudi women to have a say in the process of the decision-making." Registration opened in the two holy cities a week before the rest of the kingdom, Al Arabiya notes. The new law, announced by the late King Abdullah in 2011, also allows women to run for local office. (A South Carolina woman voted for the first time at age 108.)

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